FREEPORT — Six days after last Monday’s powerful wind and rain storm knocked out electricity and downed dozens of trees, residents living on Wolfe’s Neck Road who still lacked running water, lights and heat were beginning to lose patience.

Central Maine Power Co.’s outage information website had said their power would be back Friday, but it didn’t work out that way. Then the site said they would get electricity Saturday – that didn’t happen, either. By Sunday morning, residents said they had lost faith in CMP and were growing increasingly frustrated by the slow response by town officials and the power company alike.

“These people did not have our best interests in mind,” said Tom Landsbergen, who lives in an oceanfront home with his wife, Camille, and three children near the end of Wolfe’s Neck Road.

The 51 customers on Wolfe’s Neck Road without power were among 967 CMP customers in Freeport, a fifth of the town, still in the dark Sunday morning. They were gearing up to spend yet another day roughing it, cooking on camp stoves and flushing toilets with buckets of water.

The Wolfe’s Neck residents live in a service area that was particularly hard-hit by power outages in last Monday’s storm.

Power outages affected 99 percent of CMP customers in Harpswell, 97 percent in Brunswick and 61 percent in Freeport. All are in CMP’s Brunswick Service Area, said CMP spokesman John Carroll.


Most of the outages were caused by trees and tree limbs falling on power lines. Town crews are normally not permitted to remove trees that land on power lines, meaning that work must be done by CMP crews, Carroll said

“The numbers of trees that came down and the scale of the damage they caused was unprecedented,” he said.

By 9:15 p.m. Sunday, the number of customers without power in Freeport had dropped to 147, according to the company’s website. Carroll said the utility expected to restore power to most, if not all, of Wolfe’s Neck Road by late Sunday evening.

Carroll said CMP tries to restore power to population centers first. That’s why Freeport center and businesses such as L.L. Bean got their power back by mid-week while much of the rest of town, including homes less than a mile away from downtown, were left in the dark for several days more.

“We don’t work with the idea of restoring power to an entire town, before moving on to the next town. We are looking to get the most results for the time spent,” he said. That means restoring power to a population center first before repairing the next circuit that will benefit the most customers.

“The answer is difficult for people to hear, but our restoration process follows its own logic,” Carroll said. “Sometimes that means you will be last and that some people will get skipped over.”


CMP President Sara Burns issued a statement Sunday night reporting on the progress crews have made since the outages peaked Monday with more than 405,000 CMP customers without power – surpassing the Ice Storm of 1998, which affected 270,000 CMP customers and 360,000 in all. More than 470,000 CMP customers have lost power for at least some period of time over the past week, Burns said.

Emera electric company reported 90,000 outages at its peak, and 380 customers were still waiting for power Sunday night, according to a company statement.

As of 9:15 p.m. Sunday, about 6,000 CMP customers in all were still without power. The remaining outages included about 3,100 seasonal homes, according to Burns. Those will be among the last to have power restored.

“We are concentrating our line crews and tree crews in the remaining communities with outages,” Burns said. “Our crews are cutting their way down narrow roads and driveways to get back one customer at a time, but we will stay on the job until everyone is back on line.”

The utility hoped to have power restored to all its customers by Monday night, but it might take longer, Carroll said.

“I’m not ready to say that will happen yet,” he said. “I can tell you that we are not going to finish restoring power today (Sunday).”


Carroll said that while the company tries to estimate restoration times for customers on its website, the estimates are not always accurate because some jobs take longer than expected.

“We don’t always manage to make those. We know it is really frustrating,” Carroll said.

About 3,300 CMP workers were on the job Sunday. Crews traveled from 14 states and three provinces to help.

Landsbergen and neighbors took matters into their own hands when help had not arrived by last Monday afternoon. They got chain saws and tractors and went to work, carving a nearly mile-long path through the treacherous tangle of trees dangling from power lines that were blocking Wolfe’s Neck Road.

“We knew they were not going to cut us out. The neighbors said the last time it took two-and-a-half weeks,” Landsbergen said.

By Tuesday, they had cleared a path that allowed a propane truck to make a delivery at Landsbergen’s house so he could keep his generator going. He said even though he paid a premium price for the delivery from an independent service – he was still on his usual propane company’s wait list Sunday – it was worth it.


“That got us to civilization,” Landsbergen said.

Camille Landsbergen was on the phone several times with the Freeport Town Council to point out the safety issues remaining in the neighborhood. She said everyone was especially frustrated when town crews showed up Friday to clear the road for the 36th annual Great Osprey 10K Ocean Run at Wolfe’s Neck State Park on Saturday. If it wasn’t for the road race, would they still be waiting Sunday for crews to show up, residents wondered?

The Landsbergens have been running their generator only to cook and after dark and had no idea Sunday morning when the lights might come back on. But like some others who lost power, they found a silver lining.

“We rented a Redbox last night, which was fun for the whole family, and my two youngest children are getting along better than ever. They were playing soccer together, which never happens,” Tom Landsbergen said.

A mile down the road, Katie Pulsifer and Steve Morton were sitting in their darkened house, eating eggs cooked on an outside grill and keeping warm next to their wood stove.

Morton, who spends half his time on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where he works for a property management company, said he found his situation ironic. He has been without power on St. Thomas since early September, when two powerful hurricanes struck. He said the Maine storm was something he could have lived without.


“It is really inconvenient,” Morton said, especially when power had been restored to homes as close as 100 yards down the road.

The couple was not prepared for the storm. They didn’t have a generator and couldn’t find one for sale anywhere. It was a lucky coincidence that their new wood stove was scheduled for installation on the day of the storm. Despite the devastation, the installation crew managed to make the appointment.

The first few days without power were not too bad, Pulsifer said. The couple’s daughters read books and hung out.

“It felt like an adventure,” Pulsifer said.

But it wore thin eventually. Pulsifer has been conducting her business as a life coach via phone calls from the car because their internet connection was knocked out. They drove to a family member’s home in Brunswick to do the wash. They are hauling water from the swimming pool to flush toilets.

Their silver lining was meeting some of their neighbors for the first time as they cleared brush. The neighbors later dropped off a generator, unasked.

Ralph Harding, who lives on Osprey Cove Road, off Flying Point Road three miles from Freeport center, said Sunday afternoon it would be easy for a power crew to restore electricity to the homes in his neighborhood, which gets power via underground cables. He said the overhead lines feeding the neighborhood had been knocked off three poles.

“All they would have to do is put those back and it would energize 50 houses,” Harding said.


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